Patrick Swayze’s ‘Dirty Dancing’ jacket sells for €57,000

She said she wanted to share Swayze’s memorabilia with his fans, but refused to comment on opposition to the auction from the actor’s niece Danielle Swayze, who described it as a “slap in the face”. Ms Niemi, who was married to Swayze for 34 years, told the Press Association: “I have a lot of mixed feelings. One of Swayze’s teeth and a set of X-ray images showing his knee and broken leg were also available to buy, as was a G-string he wore in the 2005 comedy Keeping Mum. Danielle Swayze had called for Friday’s sale to be stopped and set up an online petition to halt it, which attracted nearly 1,500 signatures. She told the Press Association: “These were family heirlooms. Swayze, who died from pancreatic cancer in 2009 aged 57, wore the black leather jacket in the 1987 film Dirty Dancing, as he delivered the famous line: “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” It had a pre-sale estimate of $4,000 to $6,000 and was bought by a Hollywood memorabilia collector, who gave his name only as Glenn. The late Hollywood star’s widow Lisa Niemi said she had “mixed feelings” as she sold hundreds of his items at Julien’s Auctions in Los Angeles on Friday, including a silk shirt he wore in the 1990 film Ghost. “It’s a slap in the face that she’s selling these precious memories.” PA A leather jacket worn by Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing has fetched $62,500 (€57,000) at auction, despite calls from his niece for the sale to be stopped. “I’m such a lucky woman to have had a man who loved me as much as Patrick did.” Auction items Other belongings on sale included Swayze’s maroon silk shirt and Reebok trainers from Ghost, a surfboard and wetsuit from the 1991 thriller Point Break and the actor’s DeLorean car. There’s always a little bit of loss associated with that. Why Kim Kardashian’s a fan of Irishman Terry George’s new film Warning: Suntan may induce a midlife crisis/chronic cringing Donald Clarke’s movie quiz: Bing might help, Hope will get you nowhere “No matter what, it’s still a letting go. “While it’s a very positive thing to do, it’s a difficult thing to do. She said a portion of the money raised from the auction will be donated to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Ms Niemi, who remarried in 2014, said she decided to auction …

Hennessy New Irish Writing: April 2017’s winning story

Murphy walks beyond them and the house comes in to view, a single-level pre-fab made of plastic and plyboard, as cheap a house as can be built. When the car arrives Murphy puts a coat on and clambers in to the backseat. He turns it back up, the opening chords of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song sound, ‘chunk a chunk a chunk’. Murphy sits down and sees a holiday brochure lying open and face down on the floor, a pool of primary colour on the brown carpet. A police sergeant wearing some kind of body armour is standing on the porch talking rapidly and seriously in to his phone as if there is something to be done. The driver stretches and turns the volume down on the stereo. Murphy opens the passenger door and the seatbelt alarm begins to ring. can you wait for me here?” Murphy says. Take it easy on the weightlifting.” “Can’t promise you doc, but I’ll try.” “That’s all I can ask.” Murphy sees him out, locks the door and lies down on the examination bench and closes his eyes to sleep for a few minutes between patients. I took it after he died. At the end, when it was over, he said, “You were a hard nut to crack, but we got to the bottom of it.” I hardly remember him giving us a hug, let alone, well, you know. They drive east, out of the town and towards the mountains. I think it was old though. From the stereo Robert Plant gives an animal wail, “awwawwawwwahhhhh”. The dog just watches him. “Must be serious?” the driver asks as they stop. When it’s sitting in the corner and I’m cleaning the rest of the house, it watches me, I swear to God, it watches me. “No doubt about that one.” “Nice of him not to make a mess,” the sergeant replies. Two policemen and a policewoman stand guard on the track leading to the house. Because he’s scared of him. They nod as he approaches and one hands him a pair of latex gloves. I clean the shotgun in the morning, with the radio on, and the kettle boiling, and at lunch, and last thing before I go to bed. Uncle Tommy smoked Rothman’s and I can still smell them on the pages though he’s been dead so long. It was a dare. And when he’s …

Charley Boorman: ‘I felt very free in Ireland’

It’s the hospital, calling to confirm the next day’s operation to remove bolts from his leg. Since breaking three of his four limbs in a spectacularly nasty motorbike accident in Portugal a year ago, the professional enthusiast has been forced to put his life on pause, including scrapping a motorcycle tour of Australia and a TV show – a career move which followed from the initial success of 2004’s Long Way Round, his series with his friend Ewan McGregor. I’ve no retort; the very reason we meet is to discuss his painfully slow, painfully long and, well, painful recovery as documented in the biography Long Way Back. Charley Boorman: his painful recovery is documented in the biography ‘Long Way Back’. Health comes first, I sing like a parent. He writes: “He had sold his place in Putney for £10,000 and wasn’t sure where he wanted to live. “I’ve had lots of crashes before, but this was just brutal because of the way I hit the ground,” he says. I don’t think changing government in this general election will affect that. He paid Mum rent each week,” Charley laughs. “Dad made Zardoz with Sean [Connery], and he stayed with us during the filming. The bolts that need removing appear as taut bumps under the skin. “We’ve spoken about it, but we’ve thought about doing it when we’re much older, as two grumpy old men,” he explains. [Back then,] Ireland was, relatively, a third-world country. Mum used to laugh and tell him to stay, but he’d insist, and counted out the money every week. Who are the real candidates anyway? Charley Boorman with his wife, Olivia, and children Kinvara and Doone. “It was 1969, I was only three, and as Dad stood at the back of the crowd, watching the bidding, he seemed to escape his body and floated up to the ceiling from where he watched for a while longer before slipping back into his body again. “But I wish I did.” Long Way Back is published on May 1st. “If you looked at all the Irish actors in Excalibur alone – Gabriel Byrne, Liam Neeson – there was a whole gaggle of Irish actors who’ve gone on to become stars, so Dad was really part of that,” he says. So when asked if they experienced any anti-English sentiment, Charley cites his father’s reverence as the reason for their honorary status. …

100 days of President Trump: 100 days of cartoons

Since his inauguration on January 20th, US President Donald Trump has dominated the global news agenda like no other person on the planet. The illustrations in this series – co-ordinated by the Danish newspaper and website Politiken, and including the work of Martyn Turner of The Irish Times – come from some of the world’s best satirists, artists and cartoonists. His first three months in office have been characterised by policy reversals, late-night Twitter outbursts, political mis-steps, and “alternative facts”. Theo Moudakis, Toronto Star, Canada Ciril Horjak Horowitz, VECER, Slovenia Mandor, SME, Slovakia Miguel Bayon, El Nuevo Día, Puerto Rico Gustavo Rivera, El Nuevo Día, Puerto Rico Ahamad Rahmeh, Souriatna, Syria Isidore Carloman, Times of Oman, Oman Martyn Turner, The Irish Times, Ireland Sebastian Tanti Burlò, Times of Malta, Malta Ricardo Martínez Ortega, El Mundo, Spain Roberto Santos, El Diario de Hoy, El Salvador Roald Als, Politiken, Denmark Tom Janssen, Trouw, the Netherlands. Translation: “The first little steps” and “And is he as bad as you expected?” Ary Moraes, EBA, Brazil Javier Jaen, Die Zeit, Germany Luis Demetrio Calvo Solís, Mecho/Crhoy.com, Costa Rica Carlos Amorim, amorimcartoons, Brazil Jeff Darcy, The Plain Dealer, US Marec, Het Nieuwsblad, Belgium Michael Pammesberger, Kurier, Austria Adolfo Arranz, South China Morning Post, China Simon Letch, Fairfax Media, Australia Ron Tandberg, The Age, Australia Federico Gastaldi, Salzmann International, Italy Florin Balaban, Luxemburger Wort, Luxembourg Tomek Bochenski, Polska Press Grupa, Poland Christo Komarnitsk, SEGA, Bulgaria Shin Yamada, Asahi Shimbun, Japan Omar Abdallat, FreePen, Jordan Victor Sanjinez García, Peru Nino Jose Heredia, Gulf News, United Arab Emirates Chrisogon Atukwasize, Daily Monitor, Uganda Steve Sedam, InkPopStudio, US Pablo Bernasconi, La Nación, Argentina Xueting Wu, HUBEI Daily, China Nik Titanik, 24sata, Croatia Lars Andersen, Berlingske, Denmark Maj Ribergaard, Denmark RUZ, El Diario de Hoy, El Salvado While many question his value as a world leader, he has been a gift to the world’s satirists. Working for media outlets in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the Americas, they have shared their unique views of President Trump’s first 100 days in office.

Ilie Nastase – the kind of ‘character’ sport doesn’t need

“When did you ever go to a great restaurant and find the chef was a woman? Last weekend the former tennis player, then still coach of the Romanian Federation Cup team, light-heartedly referred to British captain Anne Keothavong and British player Johanna Konta as “f*cking bitches”. You don’t get “characters” like Alex Higgins in snooker any more. This was too much for the PC-gone-mad mob. Every now and then some dolt writes a column mourning the robust rough-and-tumble of earlier decades. Such varied competitors as Pele, Seve Ballesteros and George Foreman have demonstrated that it’s possible to swell with personality without becoming a full-on jerk. Get it? As if he hadn’t yet confirmed his status as a total ledge, Nastaste then went on to make some side-splitting remarks about Serena Williams’s unborn child. Children played gaily with hatchets. So you can’t hear them when they shout,” he said when asked about women’s liberation. “It disappoints me to know we live in a society where people like Ilie Nastase can make such racist comments,” Serena said. You know. Remember John McEnroe insulting umpires and telling the crowd to shut up? None of this was very amusing if you were at the other end trying to win in sportsmanlike fashion. That sort of thing. Nowadays that would be classed as “threatening behaviour”. “The women are quite good in England because they’re always in the kitchen. Thank goodness for Ilie Nastase. Remember that hilarious run-in he had with the endlessly polite, famously decent Dennis Taylor? The crowd roared, but Reed continued with the comic misogyny for decades. He was actually only mildly drunk when making a notorious appearance on the Johnny Carson Show in 1975. Respect the other chap. Ilie asked for Anne’s hotel room number, and joked that “we keep getting attracted”. How could she resist? Shakespeare wasn’t a bird!” A few seconds later Shelley Winters, an actor who took no prisoners, dumped a glass of whiskey on the Reed head. He was heard wondering whether the baby would be “chocolate with milk”. Well oiled Such “characters” were all over the place in the 1970s and 1980s. Boxing is one area where boorishness has continued to be seen as vital to effective promotion. Higgins was great friends with the actor Oliver Reed, who could be almost as sexist as Nastase when well oiled. He also hilariously propositioned Keothavong – who is married …

Hennessy New Irish Writing: April 2017’s winning poems

Your sympathy was always a mumble, Muffled by you saving all your feelings for yourself. I fought full-scale mutiny with Melville’s dense story, But the word count somehow grew. Jaded. Faded. Follow Your Leader I cannot now hear the word essay without Being transported back into your bed, That bed in that cold mint-green eight-bedroom Kip house half-way up Highfield Avenue, Where hormones heaved from walls and ceiling, Where we heard all the gossip, all the hook-ups, Where your mother once walked in on me, alone, Pining while you were away, Needing the home-smell of our dreams pooled in one pillow. Neck aching, I moved down the bed, Hugged your cold back and followed your lead into sleep. She tweets @theghoststation A murmur. Introduction. Somehow hopelessly out-dated. She is working on a young adult novel called The Ghost Station, set in Berlin in 1989. I woke you, once, lamenting my deadline. Much the same as usual, then? You mumbled some sympathy, then slept again. Sarah O’Connor is from Tipperary and studied in University College Cork and in Boston College, Massachusetts. All the bits were there. At 5.00am, stapling the cover page, Tethered to my lame last minute conclusion, I realised – I finished things badly. Brittle conclusion. I feel like a battery chicken, Half-plucked, grey and hobbling, No relation to a normal laying hen. And even now, I still don’t know, ten years later, Which of us was slave and which was master. Tug-of-war paragraphs. She has worked in publishing (including for Oxford University Press) and in politics. Sitting up in that single-and-a-bit bed, I wrote and wrote that March night, It was my last hand-written essay and no small trial. I feel like flesh gone cold and old and sad, Knowing it’s been had and had again And is not wanted. Needing you only amplified my feelings – I hyena-laughed, cried and wetly came them. She now works in corporate communications for a PR agency in Dublin. You slept soundly while I scribbled, Words lit by a 40-watt cheap lamp pegged to the headboard, The twin lamp on your side stone cold. Endnotes. Her poetry has been published in Wordlegs, The Weary Blues, Skylight 47, Poethead, and Headstuff. I did not think to write what I knew, Owning and owned by need, love’s slim consort. Small Talk How do you feel today? I feel like a goose pimple, all …

Ian Wilson on why RTÉ needs to ‘take chances, be ahead of the curve, be a leader’

God, I’d get fired for that, but I don’t care at this stage.”  Yet he remained at RTÉ despite everything. “I’d move Eoin McDermott up the schedule.  “RTÉ succeeded when they took chances. I hold my hands up there. He’s a big music fan and he could be very good with a bit of direction. It was mutual – he was happy enough to get rid of me,” he says laughing. It sits in the archive, U2 have a copy, I have a copy and that’s it. Gerry Ryan: “RTÉ succeeded when they took chances,” says Wilson. You can say many things about Wilson, but shutting up and staying quiet is not one of them. Tomorrow. If you want to do market research-led, heavily organised, publicity-driven radio, you’re going to lose every time.” Running gigs  Wilson arrived in RTÉ after running gigs and open-air shows as a student in Trinity College in the 1970s.  “You should take chances, you should be ahead of the curve, you should be a leader. “I would make the evenings music, music, music, and would not be afraid to have David Fanning in there to curate stuff.  Dan Hegarty and Mr Spring … The radio producer has a nod and words for every table, from the production team taking a break from recording All Round To Mrs Brown’s to a group armed with spreadsheets and calculators. Lovely, bright, brilliant people. You had a show where you discovered a new act and then Gerry would take it over and it would drift into daytime. I could harness those resources and whatever wit I had and whatever association I had to get things done. No contract, no guarantee, we said we’d play it once and put it away because it was to try out the studio. Wilson took over the station’s recording studios – “they were fantastic studios, well equipped with top-of-the-range equipment, and they’d been sitting idle for five or six years” – and brought in new bands for sessions. ‘Young and keen’  “The first session was U2 in 1981. They would clean up. More Irish music. Strict playlists, but people would have a musical identity about their programmes. They fail if they follow the herd. “I was thrown off the Fanning show because they decided it was time for me to do something on daytime and sent me off to produce the Gareth O’Callaghan show. If you’re …

Why Kim Kardashian’s a fan of Irishman Terry George’s new film

You can argue against it, but only if you ignore the facts. I guess now, 40 years or more later, you reflect on it as a part of your life that gave you a particular insight, particularly a political insight, that led to looking at other conflicts. What level of disconnect is going on here? Two years ago, as the centenary of the slaughter approached, Pope Francis urged the world to recognise the atrocities as “the first genocide of the 20th century”. George was released in 1978 for good behaviour; he then attended Queen’s University Belfast before moving to New York, in 1981, with his wife, Rita, and their daughter, Oorlagh. Photograph: Jose Haro/Open Road Films The Promise was largely financed by the late Kirk Kerkorian, an American-Armenian billionaire, who had long hoped for an Armenian version of Schindler’s List or The Killing Fields. The EU removed the physicality and the psychology of the Border mentality. In 1975 he was driving with armed members of the group when British soldiers stopped them. “It had an enormous and direct impact on me in terms of storytelling. He has subsequently explored various conflicts in his work, including the second World War, in Hart’s War, and Vietnam, in A Bright Shining Lie. As with any conflict there are good and bad on either side. In 1993 he made his debut as screenwriter and assistant director with In the Name of the Father, a prison and courtroom drama chronicling the wrongful conviction of the Guildford Four, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, and directed and cowritten by Jim Sheridan. “I never met the guy. It makes $200m films about cars chasing submarines across the ice In this spirit it was not so difficult to return to genocide, a topic he broached in Hotel Rwanda, his historical drama from 2004. “The governor character who warns the missionaries and the orphans to get out is based on numerous governors and politicians who took a stand against this – and, indeed, who were often fired or killed for their efforts. I think it’s important to show that this was a political policy, not something all Turks supported.” After just three screenings The Promise received more than 80,000 votes on IMDB, most of which rated it 1/10 or 10/10 The subject is still incendiary. There are denialists, of course. They were very positive about the fact I didn’t have any connection to the …

The Paris metro has terrific design: why doesn’t the Luas?

According to the document: “The guidelines will enable operators and others to produce panel artworks to exact specifications ensuring design continuity across the entire public transport family and reinforcing perceptions of an integrated public transport network.” The “core principles” are: colour by mode, diagrams, concise information and ease of use. Track record We don’t have a great track record in Ireland with transport signage. But even when it first opened I was disappointed by the signage. But while accessibility is vital, there’s still a strong corporate vibe to the results. Transport and way-finding signage is a tricky business. But name-signage for our stations, whether they are for trains, Dart or Luas, doesn’t have to be so utilitarian. Designed in-house by the team at Luas Cross City, they’re there to give information on the newly expanded routes. Emerging from a fussier version, a winged wheel from 1905, the shape and colour system was steadily refined, and Edward Johnston’s font included. An original of Man Ray’s 1939 Keeps London Going, showing the famous logo transmogrifying into a Saturn-like planet, sold at Christie’s in London in 2014 for £50,000. Famous red logo The London Underground’s famous round red logo is also a classic of modernist design. In 1978, all Guimard entrances were listed as historic monuments. Who doesn’t love the Luas? the overriding sense is that being clean, contemporary and efficient is prioritised over heritage, pride in a sense of place, and even – dare I say it – love. When Luas Cross City opens in December, these temporary signs will disappear and all signage will revert to the standard Luas livery. It’s a system that has been emulated around the world. While the Guimard designs were modern in their day, it was a style that leaned on art history, but it’s not simply a question of romantic nostalgia versus the evil tide of modernisation.  Their font of choice is Univers (used also by Deutsche Bank, Frankfurt Airport, and George W Bush for his campaign logos), and the overriding sense is that being clean, contemporary and efficient is prioritised over heritage, pride in a sense of place, and even – dare I say it – fun. At its core it is purely functional: it has to be legible up close and from a distance, non-confusing, and meaningful to a whole range of ages, abilities and cultural backgrounds. There have been initiatives to put …

Poetry: The Black Car’s Retreat

That black car now empty, holding itself squat and at bay from the edge of upturned grasses. Like many others I have helped bury my parents, aunts, uncles, grandmothers, friends and lovers. I have stood in line shoulder to shoulder with the remains of my family and accepted in the wake of their words the murmur of consolation, I too have been the consoler to other families’ parade of pain. So far I have been spared the sight of a dead sibling lying still in the satin-lined box, but it is coming. Jean O’Brien’s new and selected Fish on a Bicycle (Salmon) was published last year. I have stood at the windy graveside, (it is always windy) and gazed into the depths of freshly opened earth. ‘I have seen the retreat of the black car’ C.D. I know it is coming. Wright, Our Dust I have touched the polished wood of a pitch pine coffin too many times, I have spent time in hushed rooms with dead people not looking at all like themselves.

The Times We Lived In: The man who rode alone

Without a moment’s hesitation his team-mate jumps from his own bike and hands it to his friend – handing over, along with it, his chance of winning the race. No wonder he looks happy. O’Hanlon looks as if you could knock him down with a feather – is he going to drop that trophy? O’Hanlon is now remembered as the most dominant rider ever in Irish cycling. – while the French runner-up can’t get a look-in at all. It’s not the sort of story we tend to associate with competitive cycling these days. Still in his T-shirt, Kennedy is the picture of robust good health giving the shoulder of his triumphant rival a manly squeeze. Our photo shows a curious, almost intimate moment on the podium. Summer in Ireland, late 1950s. But if you have been sickened by the antics of Lance Armstrong and company, you should check out the extraordinary history of the Rás Tailteann. Competitive cyclists are speeding along the roads of Co Cork when, as they race towards Glengarriff, one young man crashes, wrecking his bike. Known as “the man who rode alone”, he made the Rás his own with 24 stage wins and 37 yellow jerseys. Founded in 1953 as a two-day event, the race now known as the An Post Rás – or, simply “The Rás” – has always been unusual in the cycling world, not least for the number of inspirational characters it has produced over the years. He is flanked by Pierre Ropert of France (left), the runner-up, and the winner of the final stage, Jim Kennedy (right). The two referred to above are, respectively, Gene Mangan and Mick Murphy. Our photo today, however, shows the most famous of them all, Séamus (Shay) O’Hanlon, picking up the trophy in the Phoenix Park in 1967 after winning it for the fourth time. The crowd, meanwhile, though obviously large and probably noisy, has been muted, the image merely hinting at a silent sea of faces.

In a Word . . . Homoeopathy

But that doesn’t stop people. I found out. straight-en them out. er… So, is it possible that the homoeopathy service at a premises near me may be about helping to make gay people straight or straight people gay by applying a little of the opposite in either case? Hence “homosexual”. Which is why I thought of him when I saw that word “homoeopathy” boldly blazoned at a place near me. I expect he would be aware whether homoeopathy is a conversion therapy. There’s a place near me which offers a “homoeopathy” service. To my surprise I discovered homoeopathy is actually the correct spelling for homeopathy. “homo”. Same, curing same. Homoeopathy, from the Greek “homeois” (similar/ like) and “pathos” (suffering). One stands exposed, chastened, even humbled! I would call in to see what is on offer but the place near me is across from a pub whose regulars I know. And, the Greek word for same is… So I considered contacting US vice president Mike Pence. Or the opposite? He even supported conversion therapy for gay people, to… Il Penceroso himself. In general, and as with conversion therapy for gay people, there is little evidence that homeopathy is effective. inaword@irishtimes.com In fact, omission of the dipthong (Œ) changes the root of the word to mean “same”, not “similar”. “Hilarious,” I thought and was tempted to call in but feared being misunderstood. He has opposed gay rights, claimed being gay is a choice, opposed gay marriage and a law preventing discrimination against gay people in employment as it “wages war on freedom and religion in the workplace”. It has to be an alternative medicine, like homeopathy, which is based on the idea that “like, cures like” and teaches that if a substance causes a symptom in a healthy person, a small amount of it may cure a sufferer. Maybe it offers a sort of conversion/aversion therapy to straight-en gay people, so to speak? My curiosity was piqued. Which is why Bart Simpson got it wrong when calling his father “Homersexual”. It might be a service to make straight people gay. Will I ever know! It would not be fair to provoke them into speculating whether I was a gay who wished to be straight or a straight who wished to be gay, which is why I thought of Mike Pence. Well.

David Davin-Power hangs up his RTÉ microphone after almost two decades

I've been an eye witness to so many amazing events like the ceasefires and the GFA but it's time for new challenges now— ddp (@theddp) April 28, 2017 There were ups and downs and tumultuous times and I hope that I helped in some way to bring a bit of clarity to the picture and maybe encourage a bit of understanding of the work of Ministers, TDs and Senators.” Davin-Power became a household-name in the 1980s, presenting the fledgling Morning Ireland news programme with the late David Hanly. For there he reported from the Corridors of (Davin) Power, smoothly delivering reports with an unblinking gaze. He left RTÉ for a brief period to become Head of News at the ill-fated Century radio before returning to Montrose to become Northern Editor during the heady years of the IRA ceasefires and Good Friday Agreement. The “zombie doughnut” episode saw the journalist surrounded by a large group of FF supporters as he went live to the nine o’clock news from the conference. The Dáil is still in Easter recess but when hostilities resume on Tuesday, a familiar figure will be absent from Leinster House. Martin says North needs some sort of special status in EU Sinn Féin to call for National Maternity Hospital’s independence Q&A: Enda is going to Brussels to talk Brexit. His low-key exit took politicians by surprise when he sent out a text to Oireachtas members announcing his departure from RTÉ and thanking them for their “courtesy down through the years.” DDP (as he is known) added: “I’d like to say what a privilege it has been to serve as a pol corr for the past 16 years. DDP’s trademark unflappability was tested to the limit during a memorable broadcast in the immediate aftermath of Brian Cowen’s keynote speech to the 2009 Fianna Fáil ard fheis. In 2001, the fruity tones of the Gonzaga-educated broadcaster soon became part of the political landscape when he moved to Leinster House. David Davin-Power, RTÉ’s long-serving Political Correspondent, bowed out on Friday after almost two decades in the job. What’s it all about? youtube He turned, and without missing a beat said smoothly “I have deputy Ned O’Keefe with me here…..”, and then proceeded to interview the delighted deputy. Beered-up delegates at party conferences have been known to tug at it in an effort to prove it isn’t real. The then Fianna Fáil TD …

Nothing on Earth: Irish Gothic with a Latin American feel

Book Club podcast There is an innocence about snow; heat is different. Most likely. He is one of the witnesses, the other one is the girl, a Cassandra figure with no idea of the future because she may not have one. Nothing on Earth, with echoes of the wasteland images of JG Ballard, is about the now. It makes for evil, wrongdoing. If a solitary house looks lonely, an abandoned estate looks even worse. Her plight makes her more of an Antigone, she too roams a battlefield, even if her search is not about fetching a dead body, she is part of the trek party seeking water and other supplies. The small family reappears from abroad in the very place from which two now grown sisters once came. The four set up home in the show house. Two sisters and but only one husband, as well as a young girl, not quite a woman but clearly no longer a child. Nothing on Earth, with its simmering menace and ambivalence, belongs to the Irish Gothic, a genre so persuasive and rooted in history that somehow even passing a ghost estate causes images of the Famine to come to the mind. This is where the Irish Gothic has arrived, via Neil Jordan’s The Dream of a Beast, another enigmatic odyssey suspended in deadening heat, the now – our now – a no man’s land cluttered with mangled shopping trolleys. The ghost estates are different, they are about lives that never got going, the family homes intended for stories which never got told. Instead of blood, we, all of us, are scrambling for air itself. What is certain, we think, is that she is the mother of the girl, a child caught between languages just as she is caught between childhood and adolescence. Our environment is under siege, natural crops can’t defeat the challenge of chemicals. Helen might the name of the mother, but it doesn’t really matter. – if you are a young woman on your own with no job to go to and not much in the way of clothes. The world is parched because it is under threat. It is unsettling to concede how science fiction filled with gadgets, yielded to the dystopian with its rigid codes of controlled, depersonalised reproduction; to where O’Callaghan brings his doomed survivors – a deserted house where the water supply is cut off and …

‘You can’t afford to take their word for it. The church has tentacles everywhere’

Lillywhite is perhaps the only man who can talk more than Fanning; it’s a brilliant interview. Linehan talks tersely about the “horrific” two days that followed, as they prepared for the termination, but he has no regrets: “It was two days.” That his wife would have been denied the same procedure in Ireland crystallised his own views.  Maternity group calls for clarification on future services at hospital National Maternity Hospital relocation planner resigns IVF, sterilisation and morning-after pill banned by Sisters of Charity It’s a telling conversation. Linehan is adamant that the church should have no say in matters of women’s health Linehan is hardly neutral on the proposal to locate the new Dublin maternity facility on the grounds of St Vincent’s Hospital, owned by the nuns; he has spoken at a protest against the plan. Fertility treatments But after her brief editorial, Kelly moves on to less contentious items. Too much technical information, audiences switch off; try too hard to appeal to the casual listener, the item is so lightweight as to float away. On Tuesday, former NMH board member Dr Peter Boylan appears on the Pat Kenny Show (Newstalk, weekdays), describing the plan as “a terrible mistake”. Dr Ciara Kelly, the show’s presenter, comes out against the plan in her opening monologue, objecting to the “failure to show remorse and failure of atonement” by the Sisters of Charity to the Catholic Church’s opposition to the likes of contraception and IVF, never mind abortion, the 800lb gorilla in the room throughout this whole dispute. So kudos to Sean Moncrieff (Newstalk, weekdays) for landing an interview with the man behind the most high-profile Irish cleric of recent times. His early memories of U2 are gloriously unfiltered, be it manager Paul McGuinness (he expected to meet “a man on a tractor with straw in his hair”) or Bono, a “little stubby young kid”. Rather, his opposition seems down to his personal experiences and his secular-minded convictions, not to mention a bruised sense of fairness. As a cursory scan of the airwaves attests, the decision to hand over ownership of the new National Maternity Hospital (NMH) to the Sisters of Charity is an almost unavoidable topic of conversation, much of it heated. Few ecclesiastical voices are heard on the matter, however, which is strange given that church influence over medical care is the nub of contention. Hearing the whole endgame played out on …

How Celtic Tiger’s death led to a Gothic revival

For a while there in the early years of the twenty-first century, it looked as though Gothic Ireland would exist in the future only as a tourist virtual reality. If the Gothic genre is very often about the inability to escape from sins committed in the dim and distant past, by the end of the twentieth century it appeared that Ireland was at last being dragged (albeit, as one commentator put it, “kicking and screaming”) into an enlightened modernity. Set around what quickly becomes a ghost estate located in one of those insignificant and outlandish places that we usually insist on calling a town, with the bare minimum of “Two streets, five pubs, a Chinese takeaway, a filling station with a minimart, a hardware shop”, its main characters could have come out of Gothic central casting: doppelgangers/twins (think Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde or Fight Club), a very odd adolescent girl (The Exorcist or Carrie), and a slippery, suspicious Catholic priest (The Monk or The Omen). Finally, however, with Conor O’Callaghan’s brilliant and disturbing Nothing on Earth, the Irish Gothic has been brought fully up to date. The focus of much of the best Irish Gothic fiction has been on the past, and traced its malevolent energies to the 1950s, 1960s or even the 1980s (I’m thinking here, for example, of Eimear McBride’s extraordinarily Gothic evocation of an ’80s Mayo in her award-winning A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing). If ghosts are haunting the houses of this half-built, almost empty estate, they aren’t (only) the ghosts of the Irish Past, but more importantly of the Present and perhaps even the Yet to Come. He is the author of British Gothic Literature, 1824-1914 (University of Wales Press, 2009), The Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde (Ashgate, 2007), Gothic Ireland: Horror and the Irish Anglican Imagination in the Long Eighteenth Century (Four Courts Press, 2005), The Faiths of Oscar Wilde: Catholicism, Folklore and Ireland (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), and the editor of Oscar Wilde: Irish Writers and Their Work (Irish Academic Press, 2010) In other words, in the economic downturn we re-entered Gothic Ireland (or, more credibly, we never really left it). The Celtic Tiger turned out to be all shine and no substance, and beneath the surface glamour dark and mysterious forces continued to operate. For centuries, Ireland has been considered rather weird, a kind of unsettling site of the bizarre, a mythic-Gothic …

Windbags, a new short story for Bealtaine

He now divides his time between Dublin and Galway. Well it wasn‘t really his secret. Draighnean is in on it. The grid. A hundred or so, driven on by the chanting of the new community choir – basically everyone that could be found, young and old – came up in a procession. For the hot water. This short story was commissioned for Age & Opportunity’s Bealtaine Festival – Ireland’s national celebration of the arts and creativity as we age. The sheep had been cut back but he still let Martin at the turf and had kinds of contracts for other lads. There’s nothing the matter with someone else. We mightn‘t be able to see each other in the dark but we can still hear what‘s goin‘ on. He went away with heavy legs. Must have been that wind last night.’ The mobiles came out. The brother denied it. They were above in Festy’s – that whole shootin’ gallery, like Martin’s, ran off lamp-oil and batteries. Improvements is all.’ ‘Oh yeah. ‘Someone go up to the Centra. I can put me faith in you ladeen can’t I… And so it was all over the Dunmaley peninsula, on that last day of autumn. Already a lost cause. Draighnean sat in with them. What has you thinkin’ about feckin’ windmills?’ ‘Ah I was just wonderin’.’ Thomas tightened the last fixing and slid out. Annie’s daughter was lost in her own kind of psychedelic reverie holding an imaginary guitar case for Murt. ‘Jaysus Martin will you hould up for a bit. * The ’Maley hall was jam-packed later that evening. These men went at a pace that was even and unperturbed, like a rhythm section in a band keeping time, and the world could go on playing its tunes. A big company doing a deal. Sure it would go off to the grid.’ ‘Jaysus you’re a fierce student of the windmill altogether. Wonderin’ I suppose what them yokes would be like around here. That thought alone cured him of his apoplexy, and in fairness led him one day to remorse. No. No. This is sheep and turf country. Someone else called a farmhouse a mile out. ‘Has anyone else noticed the static jumping off this recent wool?’ In fairness there was a bit of an extra glow to it after that day of the protest in the Glen. It’s bad enough in this village …

The new maternity hospital? That would not be an ecumenical matter

Linehan talks tersely about the “horrific” two days that followed, as they prepared for the termination, but he has no regrets: “It was two days.” That his wife would have been denied the same procedure in Ireland crystallised his own views.  It’s a telling conversation. On Wednesday, Dr Rhona Mahony, the Master of NMH, is on Newstalk Breakfast (weekdays) describing the whole affair as “a storm in a teacup”, though her raised voice hints at the emotions involved. ‘Comfort’ But Linehan isn’t fanatically anti-religious. Linehan is adamant that the church should have no say in matters of women’s health Linehan is hardly neutral on the proposal to locate the new Dublin maternity facility on the grounds of St Vincent’s Hospital, owned by the nuns; he has spoken at a protest against the plan. Offbeat voices The interview is typical of Moncrieff’s approach of late, using offbeat voices to address current affairs. As a cursory scan of the airwaves attests, the decision to hand over ownership of the new National Maternity Hospital (NMH) to the Sisters of Charity is an almost unavoidable topic of conversation, much of it heated. As it’s a medical magazine programme, Alive and Kicking (Newstalk, Saturday) has to give some coverage to the NMH affair. Then again, maybe that’s what happens when the church isn’t involved in medical matters. Slightly alarmingly, she describes herself as “the Sinn Féin of career changes – I play the long game”. (By Thursday, Boylan has resigned from the board.)  Hearing the whole endgame played out on air over the course of the week makes for undeniably compelling radio; these things normally happen behind closed doors or, nowadays, on Twitter. Too much technical information, audiences switch off; try too hard to appeal to the casual listener, the item is so lightweight as to float away. Linehan confesses he is shaky on those clinical and legal details that supporters of the move say will copperfasten the new hospital’s position. Rather, his opposition seems down to his personal experiences and his secular-minded convictions, not to mention a bruised sense of fairness. It’s a discussion that, while naturally urgent for those involved, is akin to sitting in on a consultancy session. (He did co-write a sitcom about priests, after all.) He doesn’t feel the Catholic church should be banished from civic life: “It gives comfort to a great many people and that role is important.” He …

Donal Dineen’s Sunken Treasure: Rónán Ó Snodaigh – ‘The Playdays’

It’s one thing to perfect the playing of an instrument or to be able to do so within a group, but it’s another entirely to write a bunch of songs that somehow, via magical thinking or other indecipherable ways, end up gelling together so sumptuously that a classic album is made. The climb is hard, but it’s to that point the great artist must reach in order to take the higher leap again to that really special place at the top of the spectrum. The first incarnation included Colm Mac Con Iomaire and Karl and Dave Odlum, each of whom were soon to become members of The Frames, with the latter recently a Grammy-winning producer. That’s 20 long years of beating the drum with power but with no little amount of subtlety or panache either. The group formed in Coláiste Eoin in Co Dublin, a gaelscoil with a reputation as a musical hot-spot. Rónán Ó Snodaigh has been the lead singer with Kíla since 1987. Like all tight exploratory musical units, they found their own sound. Ó Snodaigh treads a delicate lyrical path through a sound not unlike Astral Weeks. It’s a difficult instrument to assimilate into an ensemble while taking a lead role, but Buckley plays with such beautiful restraint that he sort of glides above it all. That feeling at the heart of great records is hard to define or explain but when it’s present there’s a shine off everything and great moments glisten uncommonly brightly. The backbone of the group comprised of Rónán’s brothers Rossa and Colm. Their command of the traditional form gave them license to absorb influences from all directions. Here most of these highlights belong to saxophonist Richie Buckley. This record’s got soul. It’s the way poetic champions compose. It was from this platform that Rónán Ó Snodaigh took flight with his solo records. The standard of playing is exceptional everywhere. The Playdays is the third of four to date, and it ranks as his finest. His guttural tones are softer, speaking words of love that yearn for space and peace and quiet. The Playdays by Ronan O Snodaigh

Putting Helena Molony back centre-stage in Irish history

The saying that if I’d had more time I would have written you something shorter comes to mind. Helena Molony (standing) and Maud Gonne MacBride in the 1940s At that stage an outline chronology of Molony’s public life was discernible from Margaret Ward’s Unmanageable Revolutionaries and Mary Jones’ history of the Irish Women Workers Union, Those Obstreperous Lassies. Now, can you option a biography? She was a recipient of the 2016 Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship. Her own account of what she had done between 1903 and 1921. I was energised by the humour and sheer surprise of her journalism in the early 1900s. After all, here was humour and intrigue, appearances on Dublin and London stages, armed rebellion and war, imprisonment, feminism, headlines about communist plots, unorthodox personal lives, German spies – the works. Then I went to interview the late Finian Czira, son of her great friend Sydney Gifford Czira, who told me that she had fallen in love with Dr Evelyn O’Brien. I wanted this full-length biography to be academically sound and a “cracking good read”. She wrote of “the ‘rámeis’ of the early Victorian male mind which prates much of the sphere of women… when he wants to oppose her claim to equal civic rights”; or how “all that about red petticoated barefooted cailiní is most pernicious nonsense”. I decided that Molony had had enough of my time. They lived together for over 25 years. She rang, You’re going to get a shock. Nell Regan is a poet and non-fiction writer. Chasing material brought me to a bookseller in the George’s Street Arcade who had bought her library. If you still really hate it you don’t have to put it in. It never works like that. Here was humour and intrigue, appearances on Dublin and London stages, armed rebellion, imprisonment, feminism, communist plots, unorthodox personal lives, German spies – the works When I began my early research on Molony her name popped up everywhere; in memoirs, in biographies of nationalist women and labour men as well as in survey histories, but there was no detailed work published on her. She was intriguing; a radical nationalist, feminist and trade unionist, who was active in public life until 1941. I tried to get the book finished and out for the 100th anniversary of the Rising but despite the valiant efforts of myself and Alan Hayes of Arlen House it …